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date: 02 August 2021

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Paul Tillich (1886–1965) was a German-American theologian and a Christian existentialist philosopher. Born and raised in Germany, Tillich attended several universities there before becoming a Lutheran minister in the province of Brandenburg. It was while he was teaching in Frankfurt between 1929 and 1933 that he came into conflict with the Nazi party because of his lectures and speeches throughout Germany, and he was fired after Hitler came to power in 1933. Soon thereafter Tillich moved to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1940. Tillich’s work as a philosopher was tied to questions of ontology (the study of being). While his philosophy concentrated on generating questions about what it means to be human, his interest in theology sought to generate answers. Tillich saw the idea of “correlation” as the concept that linked his interest in philosophical questions and theological answers. In Collective Guilt, he takes a somewhat mystical approach to the idea that the Germans as a whole were guilty in the “destiny” of Germany, that the crimes perpetuated by individuals were representative of the destiny of the wider German community.

From Ronald H. Stone and Matthew Lon Weaver, eds., Paul Tillich’s Wartime Addresses to Nazi Germany. Trans. Matthew Lon Weaver. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999, pp. 178–82.

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